"It ain't Hip Hop to me..." What happened to BEP?

3/19/2011 11:14:00 PM / Posted by Iron Lung /

Maybe I’m a purest, maybe I’m hanging on to something that wasn’t meant to be. I’m sure a few of you remember what the Black Eyed Peas sounded like before the moneybag hit the fan (and the arrival of Fergie). I’ve been jamming to a lot of early 2000 stuff recently while I’m writing my papers and stuff for school. This old BEP song comes on, BEP Empire, and I’m like “damn yo, they talking shit about their future selves”. The second verse was the one that really caught my ear…
“It's the Black Eyed Peas shore climbin up the Empire
State tower livin is the mission desired
I see a lot of liars so to dem I cross and fire
and they lyrics soundin tired, repetitious and expired
Cool dem down troop before they time get picked
I can't take dem serious talkin about bullshit
Got money and cars but, can't bullshit
and your lyrics are soundin like, some doo doo shit
While I'm holdin the mic tight, recite livin insight
so we can all benefit from the artform
Men who took (??) you to make dough
but forgot the main goal, almost lost the soul and got norm
Cause everybody's talkin bout, high profilin
but it ain't hip-hop to me (why why why)
Cause everybody's talkin bout, high profilin
but it ain't hip-hop to me (so check it out y'all)

The lyrics are from an early 2000 song called BEP Empire, this now sounds severely out of place coming from the most corporate band in America. Here is an excerpt from an article in the Wallstreet Journal.

“About 30 minutes into every concert on the Black Eyed Peas' current tour, band leader will.i.am performs a freestyle rap, riffing on text messages sent by audience members. It's a flashy solo turn for the musician who has steered the group since 1995. It's also a moment in the spotlight for the tour's primary sponsor, BlackBerry, which delivers the messages scrolling up two huge screens on the stage.
On its path from rootsy L.A. hip-hop troupe to pop juggernaut, the Black Eyed Peas have been escorted by a parade of corporate backers. From Coors to Levi's, Honda to Apple, Verizon to Pepsi, brands have padded the group's video budgets, underwritten its tours and billboarded band members in prominent places. When Apple was preparing the 2003 launch of the iTunes store, The Peas' "Hey Mama" became the first song associated with the iconic campaign's dancing silhouettes, a point of pride for will.i.am, the band's frontman.
For the musician, wooing potential corporate partners has become as integral to his job as the DJ sets he does on tour at after-parties sponsored by Bacardi. Often will.i.am pitches the concepts himself using "decks" that sum up the Peas' package, frequently in PowerPoint form.
"I consider us a brand. A brand always has stylized decks, from colors to fonts. Here's our demographic. Here's the reach. Here's the potential. Here's how the consumer will benefit from the collaboration."
If will.i.am wasn't in music, "He'd be the best ad executive on Madison Avenue," says Randy Phillips, president and CEO of the concert promoter AEG Live. "I've never seen anyone more astute at dealing with sponsors' and companies' needs and understanding their brands." He says he's planning to have the rapper deliver a seminar to AEG's global marketing team.
Marketers love the Black Eyed Peas for the rainbow ethnicity of the band's four members. They like its global fan base, and its fetching party anthems like "Boom Boom Pow" and "Imma Be." They like that the band achieves the near-impossible in these post-Michael Jackson times—making both kids and their parents feel cool. All this has turned the Peas into what seems like the only pop ensemble that a fragmented America can agree on. Though the members rhyme, it's not a rap group. Its chugging dance beats, spacey effects, and repetitive hooks have been engineered as party mixes."

            Truth be told, I can’t stand any of the new BEP music no matter how hard I try, even remixes by some of my new favorite artists such as Wolfgang Gartner, bare no fruit. I think there is a difference between teaming up with a corporate sponsor to push a tour and changing your music and show around to attract the most sponsors. That seems to be the very definition of sell-out. Yeah I said it, I’m sure I’m not the first you hear use that word when talking about BEP, and I won’t be the last. I’m not trying to bash, just simply wondering how does this happen, and what your thoughts on it are. I would find it a bit different if a small time band did it from the get go to make money, chances are I wont like the music anyway, but a band signed to a label making records and going on tours, releasing albums and then deciding to pretty much sell ad space during their live set? What happened to the black eyed peas?!

You can read the full WSJ article here:


Post a Comment